Take a Stand: Make Your Next Meeting a Walk and Talk

Disconnecting from your devices (somewhat) and taking a one-on-one meeting for a stroll can increase productivity and effectiveness.

Are you tired of sitting? The average American is sitting most of the day, whether it’s at work or at home.

Being stuck in meetings can make going for a walk a difficult task. Why not kill two birds with one stone? Take your meeting on a walk. You can stretch your legs while granting your eyes a break from the computer screen.

Oh, and you can pretend that you’re on an episode of The West Wing while you’re at it:

Nilofer Merchant, author, corporate director, and speaker, thinks this is the best way to get through meetings, not just because of mobility but also human connectivity.

Here are some ways walking meetings could benefit improve your meetings, inspired by Merchant’s article in Wired:

Walking without technology keeps our attention—and relationship —bank balance high.

The preparation: Carrying a ton of printouts doesn’t really work too well for this sort of meeting, which forces attendees to prepare beforehand—a huge time saver. “Sending information in advance has obvious benefits, including more time for: research, formulating ideas, and asking other people about their points of view to inform a better discussion. Perhaps more significantly, it allows those who are naturally quiet or introspective to contribute more meaningfully,” Merchant writes.

The “note-taking” excuse: When you bring your device to a meeting, do you actually take notes, or do you skim through the internet and answer emails? Merchant believes devices aren’t actually making meetings more effective; rather, they’re distracting people from the conversation. “I believe this attention is the currency of our current work/life era; what efficiency was to the industrial era, relationships are to the social era. Walking without technology keeps our attention—and relationship—bank balance high,” she writes.

But on the other hand, mobile devices have a plus side for walk and talks: they’re often pocket-size and, with the right app, perfect for keeping tabs for later. From recording devices to note-taking applications such as Evernote, you can take notes on the go and share them without any additional effort.

Lose the crutches: According to Market Watch, some corporations are banning smartphones from board meetings because they distract board members. The recent papal conclave even banned mobile devices while choosing the new pope. As Merchant acknowledges, technology shouldn’t be completely ditched from meetings, because it does serve a purpose. However, technology shouldn’t get in the way of human connection. “All of us sitting and staring at our devices is not the way to spend our time … in meetings or outside of them,” she writes. “Meetings are broken, and the associated artifacts are our crutches. Walking meetings help us, well, walk and meet instead of relying on those crutches.”

Anita Ferrer

By Anita Ferrer

Anita Ferrer is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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